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Subdomains have been a topic of debate among SEO professionals for a long time. While some argue that subdomains can negatively impact SEO, others claim that subdomains have no significant effect on search engine rankings. So, are subdomains bad for SEO?
The answer depends on the situation. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of subdomains and help you make an informed decision for your website.
Table of Contents
What is a subdomain?
Any domain that has been created in a subdirectory of a parent domain is considered a subdomain. Here is an example of a subdomain:
In the above example, we have a root domain (example.com). The site owner creates a different folder in his website directory by the blog’s name. The website owner can create as many folders as desired in its root directory. These subfolders are called subdomains.
Some website owners like to keep different sections of websites under other directories (subdomains). As you can see in the above example, the website owner created a subdomain as
They can also create
What is a root domain?
DNS forms a domain by applying rules and procedures. A domain highest in a website’s hierarchy is considered a Root Domain. Here is an example of a root domain:
Are Subdomains Bad for SEO?
It is a question that my clients have asked so many times. Googlebot considers a subdomain as a new website. Google does not associate subdomains with root domains. The simple answer would be, no, Google does not hurt your existing root domain’s ranking. However, for any subdomain you create, Google will take it as a new website.
Suppose your root domain has a high authority, and you start a new blog on the subdomain; this subdomain will get no domain authority from Google. You are almost creating a new website.
Although, you can create links between the root domain and subdomain. It doesn’t mean it would give your new subdomain the same authority as the root domain. Maybe it will improve your subdomain authority to some degree, but your subdomain won’t have an exact root domain authority.
Pros of using subdomains
When it comes to SEO, subdomains can play an important role in helping website owners improve their website’s ranking and visibility in search engine results pages. Let’s explore the different pros of using subdomains.
1- Organization and management
One of the primary benefits of using subdomains for SEO is that they can help to improve the overall structure and organization of a website.
By separating different sections of a site into separate subdomains, website owners can make it easier for users and search engines to navigate and understand the site’s content.
This can result in a better user experience and can also help to improve website ranking and traffic.
2- Better User Experience
Subdomains can also help to improve the user experience of a website. By separating different sections of a site into separate subdomains, users can easily navigate to the section of the site that is most relevant to their needs. This can result in a better overall user experience and can also help to improve website engagement and retention.
If a website has an international audience, subdomains can be used to provide localized content. For example, a website targeting audiences in different countries can use subdomains such as us.example.com or uk.example.com to serve localized content.
Cons of using subdomains
While subdomains can offer several advantages for website owners looking to improve their website’s SEO, they also come with their own set of drawbacks. Subdomains can create challenges for website management and can potentially harm a website’s overall SEO performance. Let’s explore the different cons of using subdomains
1- Diluted authority
When a website uses subdomains, it divides its authority among different sections of the site. This can dilute the overall authority of the website, making it harder for individual pages or sections to rank higher in search engine results. This is because search engines consider the main domain and subdomains as separate entities, and the subdomains don’t inherit the authority of the main domain.
For example, if a website has a blog hosted on a subdomain, the blog may have a lower search engine ranking compared to the main website, as it has its own authority score. This can lead to a lack of visibility for the blog, even if the content is high-quality and relevant.
2- Duplicate content
Subdomains can create issues with duplicate content. If the same content is published on multiple subdomains, search engines may not be able to identify the original source of the content, leading to duplicate content issues. This can result in a penalty from search engines, causing a drop in search engine rankings and traffic.
For example, if a website has a subdomain for its mobile version, but the same content is published on both the main domain and the subdomain, search engines may have a hard time determining which version is the original one. This can lead to a decrease in search engine rankings for both the main domain and the subdomain.
3- Link Equity
When a website is split into multiple subdomains, each subdomain is treated as a separate website by search engines. This means that the authority and link equity of the main domain is not transferred to the subdomains, and each subdomain must build its own authority and link equity from scratch.
This can make it more difficult to improve the overall authority and ranking of the site.
Should you use a subdomain?
It is up to you whether to use a subdomain on your website. A new Subdomain can be ranked high in the search results. However, to rank a subdomain, your site must be optimized.
The best scenario and most recommended one is to use a single domain to manage all of your business activities. You can create different pages and categories to differentiate them.
The best way to do it is before starting your new website. You should develop the structure of your website on a piece of paper or use any mind-mapping software.
Map pages you would create on the website and structure them in a way that is easier to understand for your target user. This will help your website’s users to navigate the website easily. Also, Google and other search engines love websites with suitable navigation structures.
Should I use the “Noindex/nofollow” tag or password protection? Is it going to affect the root domain?
You can use both methods. However, the most recommended way is always to protect your development site with a password.
It will tell Googlebot that this website is not intended to get indexed in the search results. If your development subdomain gets indexed in the search, you can permanently remove your website from the search results. And no, as I wrote earlier in the post, your subdomain is considered a different domain by Googlebot. It shouldn’t affect your root domain ranking.
I hope this answers your question. In the comments, let me know if you have specific questions about root domains and subdomains.
If you're interested in working with me, get in touch.